Throughout my life, I have played many board games. There have been trivia games and strategy games. There have even been occasional nonsensical games (I’m talking to you, Cranium). Throughout it all, though, I have harbored a deep dark secret, one that was buried deep in my soul.
I, Nathan Badley, am a cheater.
It’s not something I am particularly proud of, but I have cheated my way through many games. I even became great at justifying some of my cheating. For instance, why would my ships stay stationary in Battleship? If I had an enemy firing at me, I would be sailing as quickly as possible. The fact that Milton Bradley thinks a Navy fleet would drop anchor and wait for a barrage of artillery shells seems to go against the basics of naval warfare. Is it my fault that this logic makes the game much harder for the people I play against?
Yes, these board games became very simple once you figured out how to cheat. Being the banker in Monopoly always allows for a nice bonus every so often. A nice look at the cards ahead of time makes Trivial Pursuit a much simpler game that I like to call “remember the crap you read 5 minutes before the game started.” Even games like Taboo can be very easy if you master the art of the quick glance, allowing you to see the clue that you would soon be “guessing.”
I have no idea why I did this. I was not an overly competitive child. In fact, if anything I was underly competitive. Somehow, though, the doldrums of a game of Clue seem a lot easier to survive when you know that, at any moment, you can declare that Colonel Mustard did it in the Library with a lead pipe and that game will end.
Cheating is as much a part of board games as a set of dice. Everyone does it some extent. That is why I was shocked to hear that a person had been kicked out of the Scrabble national tournament for behavior that, in board games, seems par for the course.
An unknown player, hence-forth known as Captain Cheaterpants, was in the middle of round 24 of the 350 player event. Clearly Cheaterpants has a much longer attention span than me. Midway through round one, I would be looking for a TV to watch literally anything that did not involve triple word scores.
Instead of being allowed to start the next round, the director the National Scrabble Association, the world’s preeminent authority on meaningless word games, pulled Captain Cheaterpants aside. It seems that two of Cheaterpants’ rivals, Snitchy McGee and Tattly Johnson, had seen that he was carrying a couple of blank tiles in his pocket and had run to John D. Williams Jr. to alert him to the major grievance.
“It’s unfortunate. The Scrabble world is abuzz,” said Williams, obviously unaware that there is no Scrabble world. Using the word abuzz, though, seems like a great Scrabble move because that would be a solid 25 points. Clearly Williams has earned that director title.
While I understand the ejection of Captain Cheaterpants, I cannot say I fully agree with it. For one, it is just Scrabble. But more importantly, they are trying to cut out a major part of the board game experience.
That is why I am calling on the NSA (National Scrabble Association, not National Security Agency) to create a new tournament. A tournament geared towards the regular everyday Scrabble player.
The First Annual National Scrabble Cheaterment.
The rules are simple: there are no rules. You can hide tiles, make up words, etc. The catch is, though, if you are caught, the other players gets to punch you in the shoulder. Just one really hard hit. There does have to be an incentive to try to hide the cheating, after all.
For once, the champion Scrabble players will have an opportunity to prove themselves in a real gaming environment. Captain Cheaterpants can earn the victory against others who feel there is a bit of a gray area in the rules of a game.
If this goes well, I will propose the same thing to the International Bureau of Battleship Gaming. I know that, with the IBBG’s blessing, I could easily win a Battleship Cheaterment.
No one’s battleship can move like mine. I guess I must be a really good captain of plastic boats.
- Scrabble player booted for cheating at national tournament (thestar.com)
- Scrabble player caught cheating at national event (miamiherald.com)
- A Scandal at Scrabble Nationals (theatlanticwire.com)